“The white man’s god is just like the white man. He thinks he is the only god, just like the white man thinks he is the only man.” –Ma Aku, from Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing’s beautiful journey widens the canvas of history and offers me another chance to consider a world that I am not the center of. Yaa Gyasi’s novel connects generational stories from the heart of West Africa to America and back — with a long view of history. I loved reading it, and was affected by it in ways that are worth reflecting on: taking a wider view of history allows us to decenter ourselves.
Continue reading “Homegoing: Out of the Center”
“The objective reality is that virtually no one who is white understands the challenge of being black in America.”
These past two weeks. Have left me with a dry mouth, unable to form words. I wanted to be able to say more but the letters on the screen all blurred together.
The death of George Floyd was but one in a long line of wake-up calls about racial disparity, but it’s a loud one.
But this dares me to have hope: that we might all agree there is a problem. And when we do, our call is to stay focused on addressing this problem amidst all the distracting reactions and counter-reactions.
“How did I miss this?”
To move forward, though, we must Continue reading “A Dry Mouth”
Pause to think for a moment: you’re boarding a public bus to head downtown for some errands, maybe to the department store before a Saturday lunch at a barstool diner. In front of you, an older gentlemen steps onto the bus, pays, and turns walks past the only empty seat in the front, all the way to the back where he will stand for the ride, because where he sits depends not on his age or order of boarding, but on the color of his skin. You follow him onto the bus and then, because your skin is white, rest yourself in that front seat.
White people in the front, Black people in the back.
And when you get off that bus, heading toward Woolworths, you stop for a drink at a water fountain. There’s a water fountain clearly designated for you, which you enjoy before a quick stop at the “Whites only” bathroom.
All of this happens out in the open, right there in the 1950s, in front of God and everybody. Continue reading “Tied into a Single Garment of Destiny with MLK”
If history gave us mulligans, I would infiltrate the Crusades and make one tiny change. Instead of a crusade of control and conversion, I would wage a war of wasteful embrace. And marching Continue reading “A Wasteful Embrace”
Walking westward, finally closing in on the spires guiding me like the Bethlehem star, I was in for a disappointing surprise…
“I keep thinking what good wine and beer I have at home as well as a beautiful wife, or should I say boss?”
The town of Wittenberg is a thousand years old, but took nearly half that time to produce the famous reformer who wrote this about his wife. The half millennia since have seen Martin Luther’s thinking spread worldwide, including the little church in Florida via Scotland where it set the tone for my upbringing. By that time Continue reading “The Half-life of Reform”
I can’t really remember exactly when I became convinced that we had it all Right.
That somehow we – the independent protestant church, and me – had been able to travel through time directly to the early disciples, skipping all the blemishes and growth from church history along the way, without owning or thanking those who’d gone before us.
We are re-creating the infant church – the New Testament church – but not the adolescent church of the 5th or 10th or 15th century. Never mind the crusades, indulgences, overruling of science, manifest destiny of America, slavery, treatment of women –no, that church got it wrong, but not our church.
That church got it wrong, but not our church.
When we’re so willing to correct yesterday’s practices, how can we be so incorrigible today? Continue reading “Time Travel”